Soothing Winter Soups
After indulging in a holiday season of rich food and festive drinks, January’s focus on diets, detox, and resolutions can seem as bleak as the weather. Instead of going cold turkey, our solution to easing into a healthier lifestyle is a collection of winter soups that are light on the butter and cream and perfect for an evening at home. And for those who continue to celebrate into the new year, soups are a dinner host’s best friend: All the work is done in advance and it takes only seconds to plate before serving.
This soup is a complete meal and, with so many textures and layers of flavor, you’ll never get bored. Baking the tortillas instead of deep frying is easier and cuts down on calories. If you have extra avocado cream, spread it on a sandwich or add it to a salad.
Yield: 4 to 5 servings
Add avocado, sour cream, and lemon juice to a food processor. Pulse until smooth, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt. Scoop mixture into a bowl, cover with Saran, and reserve.
In a large soup pot on medium-low heat, add oil. Add onions, season with salt, and cook until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add corn, garlic, and cumin and cook for 5 minutes. Add peppers, stock, chipotles, and tomato paste and stir well. Simmer until liquid is reduced by 1/3, about 15 minutes. Add cilantro and lime juice. To serve, divide chicken and soup evenly among bowls. Garnish with a healthy scoop of avocado cream and handful of tortillas.
Folding wontons for this soup might seem tricky at first, but don’t worry if they’re somewhat ugly looking; as you cook them, they’ll get a makeover and spruce up. (Just be sure the wonton is sealed well so the filling doesn’t leak out.) If you like super spicy foods, add more Sriracha or substitute the sesame oil for hot chili oil.
Yield: 4 servings
In a soup pot, add chicken stock, 2 scallions, ginger, and mushrooms. Simmer until just 1 quart of liquid remains. Remove ginger and scallions.
In a medium bowl, add pork, egg yolk, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, and Sriracha. Mix until just combined. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of filling inside wonton wrapper, keeping additional wrappers covered with Saran so they don’t dry out. Brush inside edges with water. Bring 2 opposite corners together to form a triangle to enclose the filling. Gently but firmly press down edges. Fold two longer corners together to form a package. Cover wonton with a damp paper towel and repeat process with remaining wrappers.
After the holidays, we always seem to have leftover onions cluttering the kitchen, stale bread from a charcuterie spread, and a random assortment of small nubs of cheese. This is a perfect way to incorporate the odds and ends into a delicious dish. If you don’t have shallots, just add additional onion or leeks and feel free to substitute your favorite cheese – or what you have in the house – for the Gruyère.
Yield: 4 servings
In a large soup pot on medium heat, add butter. When foam subsides, add onions, shallots, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until onions are very soft, caramelized, and dark brown in color, about 45–50 minutes. Add flour and mix well. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add wine, stir well, and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add beef broth and 1 cup water and simmer for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Place bowls on a sheet tray and evenly divide soup between bowls. Top each bowl with 2 baguette slices and sprinkle cheese evenly over bread. Bake until cheese is bubbly and slightly brown, about 5 minutes.
Roasting carrots instead of boiling them develops the flavor and enhances the sweetness. This soup freezes well, so if you have a few extra minutes and ingredients, make double and save half for another day.
Yield: 3 servings
Preheat oven to 425˚F. Place carrots on a sheet pan lined with parchment. Pour 2 tablespoons of oil over carrots and mix well. Season with salt and spread in an even layer. Bake until tender, about 45–50 minutes.
In a medium sauté pan on medium-low heat, add remaining oil. Add onions, ginger, and garlic. Season with salt. Cook until onions are translucent and very soft, about 12–15 minutes.
Place carrots and onion mixture in a food processor. Pulse for 30 seconds, then add carrot juice and 1 cup stock. Transfer mixture to a soup pot on stove, and heat. Add additional stock and salt, if necessary.
This is our ode to bitterly cold New England winters and a cross between lobster bisque and clam chowder. It’s filling enough for a main course and, thinned out, can make a nice sauce for baked cod, sole, or halibut.
Yield: 6 servings
Heat canola oil in a saucepan to 375˚F. Add shallots and fry until crispy, about 1 minute. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.
In a large soup pot on medium heat, cook bacon until crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon and all but 1 tablespoon of fat from pan. Dice bacon and reserve.
Add 1 tablespoon of butter to pot. When foam subsides, add onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add carrots and celery and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add liquor from oysters and clam juice, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add oysters and cook 3 minutes. Transfer mixture to food processor and puree until smooth. Return mixture to pot. Add cognac, cream, remaining oysters, and reserved bacon. Heat until oysters are just cooked through and liquor from cognac has cooked off, about 3 minutes. To serve, garnish with shallots and tarragon.